Local Food Consumers: How Motivations and Perceptions Translate to Buying Behavior

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Emerging market demand for local foods represents an interesting phenomenon, as small-scale direct markets operate side by side in communities with much larger competitors, such as food supercenters, which also seek to procure locally grown produce. Moreover, the wide spread differentiation of food offerings and venues has allowed consumers to more carefully search out attributes that are important to them. These attributes may include any labels or information on private—such as quality, safety, and health—and public, such as social fairness and sustainability—assurances, some of which may be more closely associated with local foods by consumers. In this article, we explore the underlying factors that motivate consumers to choose local food and how motivations vary among buyers in different market venues, based on a national survey administered in late 2008.

Yuko Onozaka
Gretchen Nurse
Dawn Thilmany McFadden
Choices magazine, a publication of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association